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Original author: 
Greg Sandoval

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Aereo is trying to make live TV available over the Internet and yesterday the company got a step closer. The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals declined a request by some of the country's largest television networks to issue a preliminary injunction against Aereo, which would have closed the service down. The broadcasters allege that Aereo violates their copyrights by distributing their shows without compensating them. Aereo says all it is doing is helping people watch freely available over-the-air broadcasts online, which they have a right to do. At stake is nothing less than control of the airwaves. To this point, it's been a complicated story and there's still more debate to come. Now is a good time to try to figure out...

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An anonymous reader writes "Last night before the State of the Union speech, President Obama signed an executive order for improving cybersecurity of critical infrastructure (PDF). The highlights of the order are: 'information sharing programs' for the government to provide threat reports to industry; an overarching cybersecurity framework developed by NIST to figure out best practices for securing critical infrastructure; and reviews of existing regulations to make sure they're effective. The ACLU supports the Order, as does the EFF. '"A lot of what this shows is that the president can do a lot without cybersecurity legislation," said Mark Jaycox, policy analyst and legislative assistant for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who points out that the executive order satisfies the need for information sharing without the privacy problems that existed under legislative proposals where loopholes would have allowed companies to dump large amounts of data on the government in an effort to obtain legal immunities. Without those immunities, companies will by nature be more circumspect about what they provide the government, thus limiting what they hand over, Jaycox said.'"

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Reuters

A man uses the cover of a hot tub to move a TV set through floodwaters at Cornubia, Queensland. Massive summer floods have killed four people and forced thousands to evacuate their homes across the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales, according to local authorities. -- Reuters

Editor's note: Photo taken on Jan. 29, 2013 and made available to NBC News today.

Related:

Wild weather has broken a lot of hearts: Australia PM

Video: Frothy sea foam spills into Australian town

PhotoBlog: Three killed, dozens rescued in Australia floods


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amazon fulfillment center picking

In preparation for Cyber Monday and the holiday season, Amazon has hired an additional 50,000 employees to work in its 40 fulfillment centers across the country. 

Last year on Cyber Monday, online retailing's answer to Black Friday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second. It's expecting this holiday season to be its biggest yet. Early reports have Amazon's holiday sales up 40 percent over last year.

That doesn't happen by magic. Amazon plows billions into its fulfillment centers. As Cory Johnson of Bloomberg TV notes, Amazon has made $5.3 billion in capital expenditures in the past five years. $2.3 billion, or 43% of that, has come in the last 12 months.

NBC's Diana Alvear recently got a look inside Amazon's largest fulfillment center.

This Phoenix, Arizona-based fulfillment center could contain 28 football fields.

This fulfillment center is home to thousands of items waiting to be ordered. It's the largest of Amazon's 80 fulfillment centers around the world.

Last Cyber Monday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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aereo ecosystems reports lead

There is an infamous attack ad from the 1970s that opens with a montage of a devil, a vampire, and Frankenstein's monster — and then shifts to a terrifying, anthropomorphized cable box. The angry cable box has red eyes and a wide row of shark-like teeth, which it gnashes as a paternal-sounding announcer warns viewers to stay away from cable: "Don’t let pay TV be the monster in your living room!

The broadcast television industry has fought — in court, in Congress, and in the media — to block every major innovation in the delivery of its content. Broadcasters fought the upstart cable companies that figured out that a physical connection could deliver a clearer picture than a TV antenna. They fought the VCR and the DVR all the...

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Hussein Malla / AP

A Lebanese military intelligence agent holds his gun as he runs during clashes between Lebanese troops and a Syrian gunman who had engaged in an hours-long shootout with the security forces, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 24, 2012.

Anwar Amro / AFP - Getty Images

Lebanese security forces take position as they storm a building in Beirut's Karakass district on May 24, 2012 following a shootout during the night with a man holed up inside a flat.

Hussein Malla / AP

A Lebanese soldier, right, and a policeman, left, take position in front of the apartment building where clashes erupted.

Reuters reports — Two people were killed when Lebanese soldiers stormed an apartment in Beirut on Thursday where a gunman had exchanged fire with security forces, a security source at the scene said.

The source told Reuters the gunman, a Syrian national, was killed when the soldiers broke into the apartment at around 6 a.m. (11 p.m. ET), following several hours of shooting.

Boiling point: On Lebanon's Syria Street, a civil war brews

They found the body of another man in the apartment, along with rifles and grenades, and two men who were arrested.

Four soldiers were wounded, the source said.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident was linked to recent sectarian violence in the Lebanese capital which has been fuelled by the conflict in neighboring Syria. Read the full story.

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Hussein Malla / AP

Lebanese soldiers help a young girl and her family flee her house via a backyard during the clashes.

Anwar Amro / AFP - Getty Images

Lebanese security forces detain an unidentified man outside a building in Beirut's Karakass district on May 24, 2012.

Syria's chaos has come over the border into Lebanon, with gunmen clashing in deadly street battles. NBC's John Ray reports.

 

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pacman

Editor’s note: Contributor Ashkan Karbasfrooshan is the founder and CEO of WatchMojo, he hosts a show on business and has published books on success.  Follow him on Twitter @ashkan.

In last week’s Get Rich or Die Trying article, I mentioned that “tech is a zero-sum, winner takes all game”.  A reader objected, arguing: “I think that may be an inappropriate use of the term ‘zero-sum’ – one company’s increase in profits (or revenue) does not mean a competitor must see declining profits (or revenue)”.

History suggests that Jack Welch’s philosophy that “a company should be #1 or #2 in a particular industry or else leave it completely” is even more applicable to the tech industry, where the top player can build a sustainable and ever-growing business but everyone else is practically better off getting out.

Examples of market dominance by the #1 that come to mind include:

-          Google in search,
-          Facebook in social networking,
-          Groupon in daily deals, and
-          Amazon in e-Commerce.

This doesn’t mean that the:

-          #1 player isn’t susceptible to the Innovator’s Dilemma, or
-          #2 competitor can’t build a massive business.

Indeed, Microsoft’s Bing or LivingSocial are meaningful #2’s in search and daily deals respectively, but clearly the network effects and economies of scale that come with market share dominance make it nearly impossible for challengers to remain relevant over-time. Monopolies are nothing new and come and go: Google is the evolution of Standard Oil, AT&T and Microsoft in search, you can argue that Apple is next in line in mobile.

What is Zero-Sum Game Anyway?

First, the definition:

“In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which a participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero.”

Indeed, while the tech sector is huge, within each segment, you see a zero-sum game from each individual purchasing decision out.  For example,

-          a consumer will buy a Mac or PC; an iPhone or Android device, etc.
-          a business will adopt a solution from Oracle or Siebel, for example,

But it’s rare for a consumer to buy or a company to adopt both.

If you repeat this binary-like decision process throughout the industry and economy, you get a zero-sum situation where one competitor’s gains come at the expense of others’ in the industry: Apple’s iPhone sales obviously put a dent in the Blackberry; and its iPads are evidently going to affect PC sales – no matter how much some want to deny it.

It’s Like This in Most Industries, The Only Difference Is Severity

I run an online video content company and categorize video companies into four quadrants:

-          Content (creators),
-          Distribution (search, distribution),
-          Technology (content management systems, content delivery networks), and
-          Advertising (ad networks, servers)

Clearly there’s a lot of overlap and how those four interact with one another merits an article in of itself (or hundreds).  While technology (with a lower case) enables Content companies, it increasingly underpins Distribution, Technology and Advertising companies.

As such, I see this zero-sum phenomenon every day with the latter three.  When TechCrunch’s parent AOL bought 5Min for example, it was a matter of time before AOL stopped licensing Brightcove’s Online Video Platform and instead use 5Min’s player.  Seeing how AOL and 5Min were my distribution partners, I kept that thought to myself, but it was a matter of time.  Today AOL’s main platform for video is indeed 5Min (note: I am not an AOL/5Min employee).

Content Isn’t a Zero-Sum Game: “I’m Your Pusher”

In content, it’s not really like that. ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC all have meaningful franchises.  Sure, if you watch FOX on Sunday at 6pm then you may not watch ABC at that time, increasingly with cord-cutting and time shifting that isn’t the case anymore.  In fact, content is so not a zero-sum game that a company like Viacom has multiple brands to address that reality.

Indeed, if you want to travel to Barcelona, you won’t watch one video or read an article, you will read/watch many and I’d argue that content consumption – like a drug – just creates more demand.

But if you want to book a ticket to Barcelona, you will either use Travelocity or Expedia, for example.

Place Your Bets

That makes content a less-risky endeavor, and, with digital media and digital distribution reducing the marginal cost of production and distribution, then content has become a better risk-adjusted bet, though arguably not as scalable and certainly not a winner-takes-all gamble.

It will take an entire generation before investors realize this; though some argue that it’s already started. According to media guru Jack Myers, “VC funds are being redirected away from tech and toward content. Technology-based venture opportunities in the media and advertising space have been largely played out. Bottom line, venture capital funds will be shifting from technology to content, context, commerce and research.”

I’m not holding my breath, even though digital content is effectively the new software.

In Tech, Competition Becomes Blurry Over Time

The same way that the Internet has changed content, it has also changed technology.  For one, with consumer-focused technology companies being free, advertising-supported businesses, the prevailing asset isn’t necessarily the underlying hardware or software, but rather, the audience.

This is why tech companies are all seemingly fighting one another:

-          Facebook vs Google in search and social networking,
-          Google vs Apple in mobile,
-          Amazon vs Apple in tablets and entertainment,
-          Microsoft vs Google in search.

You get the idea: in tech, everyone morphs into everyone’s competitor… and since the main asset – the audience or consumer base – is so fleeting, tech becomes an even riskier bet.

The Four Horsemen

Whereas initially the Web pitted “content vs. tech”, as the Web matures, it becomes “tech vs. tech” with Content becoming Switzerland amongst Distribution, Technology and Advertising companies.

In the real world, there is no perfect example of a zero-sum game – granted.  But whereas Jack Welch argued that a business ought to be #1 or #2 or get out, the network effects that the web has unleashed over time force technology (lower case) businesses to either be #1 or get the hell out.

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